Bar del Pla is a traditional-looking tapas joint that doesn’t seem vastly different from the rest with its unassuming facade, but one that raises the food to a higher level.
You’re not coming here for the décor, and what is it with the floodlit restaurants in this town? But it is worth the (probable) wait for a seat here.
There’s a little experimentation in the kitchen, but largely Bar del Pla is all about the standards done really well. They may not be described very accurately on the menu either: the “fried small fish” turned out to be more like a fisherman’s platter, and very good too.
Menu descriptions are pretty basic, but almost everything that comes out is excellent. And the wait staff really know their wines – and there a lot on offer.
Bar del Pla packed with locals, so that’s a good sign, and definitely worth traveling to El Born to visit. It may be on the same street as the Picasso Museum, but it’s a world away in atmosphere.
Bar del Pla is at the top of my recommendations in Barcelona for this style of dining, and everyone I’ve recommended it to has loved it.
Bar Cañete oozes traditional atmosphere, but the wait staff all seem fluent in English, which possibly gives you some indication of the clientele.
Don’t let that put you off: this is no tourist trap. Cañete was recommended to me by locals, and it delivers the sort of food locals want.
Last time I visited I was in a seafoody mood, so I opted for lobster croquettes; a green bean, pine nut and parmesan salad; Cañete fried fish assortment (it advertises moray eel and beach prawns, but also included little red mullet, shark, and quite a lot of calamari); and Galician baby scallops with bellota ham.
The croquettes were freshly cooked and nice enough, though the lobster flavor was fairly subtle. Good, but not great. The French bean salad was a nice injection of green (you really need to watch your green intake in these tapas bars – scurvy beckons otherwise). Can’t say I really noticed much parmesan, though the pine nuts were good, and there was some shaved scallion for a little extra kick.
The fried fish was a nice dish with a range of different flavours and textures (though to be honest I couldn’t taste the difference between the Moray eel and the shark, which both had an extra little boost from some paprika in the batter). Still, it’s another I’d repeat.
And finally the most expensive (at €17.80) dish of baby scallops. Served in the shell with a ratatouille, jamon and gratinated cheese on top, the poor little scallops were a bit lost under it all. Nice, but not great.
And because by this stage I’d seen the suckling Iberian pig being plated in front of me, I couldn’t resist – and it was as good as I expected. A strip of lovely tender pork on a bed of mash with a thin (if not crispy) skin on top and a dash of gravy. Very nice indeed.
Between the two of us, I’d say that was one too many dishes. But other than the scallops I’d order it all again – though there are other tempting options on the menu.
For a long time I’ve been a bit dismissive of Bar Cañete – not that I didn’t recommend it, just that I always found myself finding more tempting options. But after this visit it’s back on my regular list. And it’s a particularly good choice to give visitors a taste of authenticity, without the Disneyland feel.
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